Banning Father’s Day

I was just going to write about how thousands of primary school children in Scotland were banned from making Father’s Day cards this year. Then I found out that the same thing happened at the school of an Unnamed Child in the heart of England. It’s probably even more widespread.

This has been done, as they said in Scotland, “in the interests of sensitivity” because of the growing number of single-parent households and children living with a mother and her lesbian partner. I’m hoping there’s none of the latter at the Unnamed Child’s school, as it is in direct violation of the dogma of the Church that runs the school.

Let’s set aside for a moment the children living in Gomorrah situations, as these are thankfully still less than normative. The sensitivity is really over the fact that 25% of children live with a single parent. They don’t want to make the children uncomfortable if they don’t have a father. And herein lies the specious reasoning.

Everyone has a father. I know that science and the Labour government are working to change that, but for now – and certainly for any child of school age – it took a sperm and an egg. Some children may have lost their father through death. This is a terrible thing, but this has always been the case and Father’s Day has never been cancelled because of it.

It is true that there are in increasing number of children who don’t know their father. This may be because their mother doesn’t know who the father is. Or it may be because the father has been marginalised. I know of more than a few cases whether the mother has simply cut the father out of the child’s life.

In most cases, however, the child knows who the father is and even has some sort of relationship with the father, even if his is not resident in the same home. It’s these father’s who get cut out of Father’s Day. As Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice, said: “I’m astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not. It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), said: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

An Unnamed Woman often suggests that rant too often about the “ought” instead accepting the “is”. (That is my terminology, not hers.) I was once told that I will never be successful unless I give up my pre-modern principles and accept the the ways of the modern world.  Perhaps this is true. But despite the 25% of families with a single resident parent, there are still 75% who have both parents resident. There are still most of the 25% who have a dad somewhere.

Most of all, there is still a need to remember that fathers are just as important as mothers.

More Christian Persecution in Burma

Being a Christian in Burma has never been an easy thing. This year is has gotten even more difficult.

First, the Karen and Karenni people were hit by Cyclone Nargis. Then the Burmese junta blocked aid especially to these two predominantly Christian ethnic groups.

Now there is a rat infestation in the mostly Christian Chin State. This is completely unrelated to the ravages of the Cyclone. Chin State is in the north of the country. This plague hits twice each century and is caused by the flowering of bamboo. The explosion in the rat population results in the consumption of all of the food supplies.

The junta will provide no aid and will allow no outside help. They are quite pleased that starvation in setting in. More information is available in the Telegraph.

Post-Apostolic Asceticism

I think the Peter and Paul fast starts tomorrow. I don’t know. I lose track. My menalogion software is on the computer that’s not working so well.

If there is one thing the Orthodox Church likes to do, it is fast. I’m not sure why there is so much fasting. Apparently following fasting rules suited to an ancient Mediterranean culture makes us more spiritual.

The only truly Apostolic fasting is the Wednesday/Friday fast days. Great Lent started as a recommended discipline for catechumens who would be baptised at Pascha, though the very early Church may have fasted for 40 hours in preparation. The Christmas fast could not have preceded the origins of the Christmas feast. The Dormition fast and the Apostles Fast are more recent.

The number of fasting days varies from year to year, depending on the date of Pascha. And early Pascha cuts short the normal time after Theophany and extends the Apostles’ Fast. In 2010, by my rough calculation, there are 195 fasting days. By fasting days, I mean days when meat is not allowed, so I’m including Cheesefare week. For a carnivore such as me, any day without meat is a day of severe asceticism.

This leaves 170 normal, regular, meat and potatoes days. Fasting seems to lose it value if it is actually more of the norm than normal eating. And when a fast and a feast conflict, the fast wins. The feast of the Annunciation is an example of this. This is the true feast of Incarnation, but it is trumped by Great Lent.

Observed more strictly than I am able, Orthodoxy seems like a vegetarian religion with occasional omnivorous moments. If our sacramental theology says that all of creation is sacramental and that everything we eat is sacramental, because we bless it and it is a gift from God, why do we spend so much time not eating it?